((Okay, okay, I know it's taken me forever to get this up. Sorry, I really am. But I've been trying to find the "perfect" ending for this story, rather than settling for the "right" one. *shrug* I'm still working on it, but I've almost written to the end of this ole' tale. Heaven knows what I'll be posting when it's finally done. XD ))
Sunset. The time of romance and beauty, the time where little ones are tucked into their little beds. The time when sharks sometimes have feeding frenzies. An ordinarily beautiful occasion. Now, it was time for us to invade our own ship, defeat the crew on board, and rescue our own crew from the hold—all before anyone figured out what we were doing in time to stop us.
Even though I didn't like to think of it, Wulv was right: One adventurer, one nearly dead bowman, and one kid soldier were not much when wading into battle. But, hey—we'd escaped the camp, hadn't we? And the Kahts? Those accomplishments were nothing to sneeze on, I thought (for all that we did lack in ferocity, cunning, and general good health).
We set off across the beach, keeping to the tree line wherever we could and ducking behind the jagged rocks of the shore when needed. I led the way, with Wulv helping his captain along behind. As we got closer to the Waveblade, we could see the lantern light and hear the talk and laughter of the soldiers on board.
“Are we going to just...climb up the side?” I asked.
We stopped and looked at each other. Apparently, none of us had thought the plan through that far. To be fair to Bart, who was probably the cleverest of us all, he was suffering from a terrible injury, and that was bound to have a detrimental effect on his logic.
“Give me a moment.” said Bart, frowning thoughtfully.
“I've got it!” I exclaimed.
“Keep it down, Tory.” Bart cautioned. “We're within hearing range.”
“Sorry.” I whispered back. “But if you go out as our distraction, we need to make sure everyone—or almost everyone—is distracted. So what is big enough to get everybody's undivided attention?” I held a finger in the air.
“...beached whales?” Wulv guessed.
I paused, my mouth hanging partway open. “Um...no. Actually not.”
“Flood? Landslide? Poison? Explosion?”
Bart cleared his throat. “Tory, the suspense is killing me. Just spit it out.”
I'm pretty sure my eyes were gleaming in the dim light of the moon. “Fire.”
Bart was not pleased with my plan. For one thing, he was the most at risk for the fire. Because he was the distraction.
Fire, of course, is the easiest and most effective way to put a ship in jeopardy. But it had to be a controlled fire—I couldn't have the Waveblade burning down to fistfuls of ashes. That's why I put myself in charge of putting the fires out. Fires, plural. Because Bart wasn't going to start just one—that would never do, it would never get enough attention for our plot to go on unnoticed—he had to start at least a dozen. And Craigin would absolutely murder me if anything happened to his ship.
So I stood ready under the familiar hulking shadow of our vessel while the first part of the plan was carried out above.
Bart had begun his theatrics by carrying a torch toward the ship—it was dark, a single torch would not raise questions. He'd keep the rogue crew busy by letting them know he was still in charge if possible, or convincing them that Han was dead if they'd already heard about the mutiny.
Wulv was next to me, waiting for my signal. We'd gotten under the ship while Bart staggered like a madman with his torch, keeping everyone's eyes on him and not on a faint shadow or two moving in the dark.
The minute Bart had stepped foot on the planks, I started counting.
Bart and I had agreed that an actual signal would be too risky, so I was to wait for exactly one minute before boarding with Wulv. If Bart yelled at us beforehand, we were to run like mad for the jungle.
One minute, and nothing from Bart.
We started to climb the barnacle encrusted rope of the anchor, then clambered over the edge—quietly. And whoo boy, it was good to be back on board! My home away from home. I breathed in the smell of wet wood and pitch and oil and smoke and that everlasting fishy smell of the sea.
No time to savor my reunion with the Waveblade, though.
The crew was all at the other end, and just as we hunkered down behind some barrels, I heard the first shout.
Curses and yells followed.
Two men ran out on deck nearby. They looked guard-like enough for me.
“Go, go!” I hissed at Wulv.
He darted away and I raced—bent over—to the other side of the ship where I quickly started my own small blaze. I watched the wood underneath my small pile of kindling turn black and start to smoke with a wince. Craigin was going to hang me by my toenails for this.
I fanned the flames and waited, counting off another two minutes to give Wulv time to get the crew out of the hold. We had no official brig on the Waveblade, so any prison the Kurrm’anairs could have rigged would be pretty rudimentary.
And then we came to my favorite part.
I roared, as loudly and as 'villain-pirate-miner-traitor-y' as I possibly could: “Look! FIRE! Abandon ship!”
Very well, it was a downright stupid plan. It's not like I had a whole lot of options, time, or resources. I reminded myself as I quickly hid and watched the confusion on deck that it was at least partially Wulv and Bart's plan, too. At least I could shift some of the blame if it all went south. Then again, if it all went south, I wouldn't be left standing around to do much of anything—least of all make excuses.
For a moment, I was afraid it wasn't going to work. The crew started running about as if to put out the fires—but there were too many and they were quickly spreading and the crew gave it up. They all assumed my suggestion had come from someone among their own group, and they were quick to see the sense in it as they fled.
In seconds, most of the Kurrm’anairis crew had reached shore and turned back, presumably to watch the ship burn.
But I wasn't about to let that happen. I grabbed a bucket and knotted a rope around the handle, then pitched it over the side. As Wulv led our real crew, blinking and dazed, out on deck, I turned to shout at them. “Quick! For the love of everything, cut anchor and douse the flames!” And proceeded to run about with my bucket, tossing sea water over everything I could find.
The Waveblade, released from her bonds at last, drifted out to sea while the Kurrm’anairis sailors could only shout and jump up and down with frustration.
I left off my fire duties to laugh and point and wave at them. “So long! Farewell! Good day to you all!” I shouted.
“Torinnir!” Bart bellowed.
I spun around, just in time to dump my last stream of water on a trickle of flame headed toward the main mast. Two seconds more and the mast would have gone up like a candle.
“Never mind that, sir.” One of our crew grabbed my bucket and pointed across the deck. “See to your friend.”
“What?” My eyes darted to the where he gestured. “Bart!”
He'd collapsed against the railing, curled in a ball, his eyes shut tight against a sudden wave of pain. I ran to him. Putting out the fires and avoiding Craigin's wrath wasn't priority anymore.
“Hey, hey, hey.” I muttered. “Thanks for the warning about the mast, pal. Hang in there. We've done it. The fight's half won.”
Bart nodded wordlessly.
“Dilinger!” I yelled. I jumped up and grabbed the arm of a crew member. “Where's Dilinger? I need him.”
Dilinger, the real doctor on our crew, was fetched. I didn't know most of the crew very well—apart from playing the occasional game with them—but Savadra had made me take lessons from Craigin's good friend and ship physician. We carried Bart down into my cabin, where Dilinger examined him.
“Your stitches are too loose.” the doctor said at length.
I tried my best to go on looking worried instead of rolling my eyes. Savadra always laughed at my needlework—unfortunately, in our short travels I'd had more than ample opportunity to display my rudimentary skill. I always came back with the “it's easier for you because you're a girl” line and she and Fern always kicked me. Seriously, what is with those girls and kicking people? Savadra has always had that habit, ever since we met. I think she kicked me when were first introduced. I should have taken the hint and turned around and gone home. Stupid me.
“The only real problems seem to be loss of blood, malnutrition, and over-exertion.” Dilinger concluded, setting me a little more at ease. Because, hey, 'malnutrition' sure beats 'infected and dying'.
Bart was awake, but too exhausted to speak or move much. I left him in the care of the doctor and went out to survey our winnings.
We had the Waveblade back.
That was the best news I'd had in a good long while. With a ship beneath our feet, it shouldn't be too hard to locate the rest of our company. After that, all we had to do was cut our losses and go. I was quite frankly ten thousand percent done with the whole adventure and ready to move on to something else. Let King Greythan and his barbarous tradesmen sort out the problem for themselves. Craigin could report them to whichever authority he chose and we'd be on our way. Sure, we wouldn't be paid, but we'd be alive and together, right?
Wrong. Apparently. As I was all too soon to find out.